Comics The marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane is no more. In a recent issue of The Amazing Spiderman, Pete made like Faustus and agreed to let Mephisto retcon his marriage out of existence in order to save Aunt May from which means that twenty year’s worth of comic book stories have been wiped from Marvel continuity including the recent reveal of his secret identity. It’s a bold move to be sure and like all of these things will probably be reversed in six months. But Marvel for now are saying that won’t be the case and this is the status quo from now onwards.

The only comics I’ve read in recent years have featured a timelord or been written by Joss Whedon so I shouldn’t be too outraged about this but really doesn’t it stink? Retcons are nothing new in comics and reformats at DC have been common enough that the writer's got in a real twist, dropping in and destroying alternate timelines left, right and centre. Marvel has tended to be more subtle and indeed have created a whole new Ultimates universe just for the purpose of wiping away continuity and starting again in a contemporary setting.

But the problem with this move is that it disrespects the emotional investment that fans have put into the characters over the years. The book’s current writer J. Michael Straczynski wasn’t too happy with the development (since it wipes out the work he’s invested in the book) and refused to rewrite the history, so Marvel’s president Joe Quesada apparently did the deed himself. Here’s some great commentary on that and all the other issues that it throws up, particularly to do with how it effects the whole Marvel universe since Spider-man is one of the linchpin characters and so his is not the only line that’s changed theoretically.

Unless they’re really smart and the life of Peter Parker is the only thing that’s been changed and everyone else still remembers what really happened. So Spidey still thinks his secret identity is intact but everyone else knows who he really is. [geek] I really suspect though that this whole thing is going to resemble the Star Trek episode Yesterday's Enterprise and everything'll be put back the way it was by the end of the year.[/geek]


  1. Stu, have a look here: http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=12688

  2. Thanks for that Graham. I'm still not convinced though -- they seem to have taken a one title in a vacuum approach to the thing when it's a character that's cropped up throughout that 'verse. You're still not just rebooting what happens in this one story but across the continuity of the whole universe. And if you take the view:

    "the reason why we went with this Faustian pack story as opposed to shifting way too many continuity blocks. It doesn’t cause all of those past Spider-man stories to be discounted. Almost all of that stuff that happened, happened, except Peter and MJ weren’t married."

    What about all of the stories where the character's marriage directly effected the outcome of the story? Purely on a storytelling level its a house of cards which if not done with some intelligence shreds something which millions of people have been reading for decades.

    To say -- well the unmasking happened but people don't remember who they saw doesn't work because the ramifications of the action had consequences in terms of old enemies turning up and taking a potshot. The reader has to take a massive leap of faith to accept that everyone involved in that thing wouldn't wonder why they suddenly can't remember.

    The fact that none of this seems have been thought through in a detail which looks beyond one story-arc in a single title still suggests to me that it'll somehow be reversed in the next couple of years, if not by Quesda then his successor.